Six-man football growing in Sask.

Six-man football — that unique hybrid that’s become a staple in many Saskatchewan towns — stages its annual international showcase this weekend.

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CanAm Bowl XIV, pitting high-school six-man players from Canada against their counterparts in the United States, runs today in Preeceville.

Every one of the 14 games has been held in Saskatchewan. And as a bonus, there’s no danger of accidentally putting 13 men on the field and incurring an untimely penalty — a scenario Saskatchewan Roughriders’ fans are very familiar with.

“We just hope we don’t get called for seven men on the field,” Team Canada head coach Jason Boyda said Friday with a chuckle. “In all my years coaching, I’ve never seen seven men on the field, for either side. But now watch; it’ll happen to us tomorrow.”

Boyda, who started the six-man high-school program in Preeceville nine years ago, said the sport is seeing steady growth in Saskatchewan.

“Six-man football teams are springing up everywhere,” he said. “When I first got involved in six-man, there was 27 or 28 teams. Now, this fall, there’s going to be 40. There’s been some cases where new programs started up, and also, with some areas declining in enrolment, the nine-man programs have — we like to say — moved up to six-man football.

“The scores can be like basketball scores, like 77-70. But there can also be some really good defensive battles. The one thing with six-man football is you can’t hide anyone.”

Boyda emphasizes that latter sentiment, noting that six-man players need a wide skill-set to play the game. During preparations this week, he’s seen big lineman-type players go out on pass-routes and make nice catches.

Team Canada’s roster includes 24 players, selected following a recent tryout camp at Saskatoon’s Griffiths Stadium. The Americans brought 18 players.

The two teams mingled freely this week.

They eat together, sleep at the school, and played softball with mixed teams consisting of players from both sides. A golf tournament was washed out by rain.

Both sides started practising in Preeceville Wednesday, and today, they turn their attention to the much-anticipated clash.

The Americans have an 8-5

CanAm Bowl record against their Canadian counterparts. Last year in Carrot River, Canada beat the U.S. 17-16. The year before, the Americans prevailed 42-31 in Porcupine Plain.

Today’s game will be played at 1 p.m. in Preeceville.

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